Dunbar High graduate Nahisha Alabre has been college bound since middle school. That’s when she was identified by teachers for early mentoring through the Take Stock in Children program and the potential to receive the Jo Anne Olmstead and John F. and Mary W. Hotchkiss scholarships administered by the Foundation for Lee County Schools through the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.
A track standout at Dunbar and the fastest woman in Lee County in 2016, Alabre received both scholarships as well as the 2016 Dunbar Heritage Scholarship. She’s completing her freshman year at Cornell University – an experience she describes as a supportive yet competitive, intense and rigorous.
Alabre is grateful to the community foundation donors who gave her an early head start.
“If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am now, doing what I’m doing,” she says. “The scholarships were a blessing upon me and my family because I knew my parents couldn’t afford college. I don’t have the stress about where the money is coming from and if I’m coming back next semester. There are kids who couldn’t come back. It’s not something I have to worry about; I can choose to worry about something toward my goals.”
Energetic, enthusiastic and effervescent, Alabre, who’s majoring in human development with a minor in business, also runs track for Cornell. She plans to attend graduate school for sports psychology then return to Dunbar.
“I want to lead by example and give back to the community that built the Nahisha Alabre you see today,” she says. “You have to remember to give back; it’s not about what you get but what you give.”
Although she’s more than 1,300 miles from her Lehigh Acres hometown, Alabre doesn’t have time to be homesick.
“I want to make my dad proud,” she says. “I’m on a mission. I know I’m supposed to accomplish great things. My parents visited during the pre-freshman summer program. My father made me walk him all around campus. He loved it. My mom loved the people.”
“Success isn’t in a title or money,” she adds. “It’s about setting an example and what people see you do. It’s about building yourself up and changing your community, city, town or state. You have to start small before it can get big.”
The Jo Anne Olmsted and John F. and Mary W. Hotchkiss scholarships were created from a $2 million gift to the Southwest Florida Community Foundation in 2005. Recipients must maintain good grades and stay drug- and crime-free throughout middle and high school.
The Dunbar Heritage Scholarship is awarded to Dunbar High School graduates of African-American descent who document financial need and have a 2.5 GPA or higher. Recipients must attend college within the year following high school graduation.